It’s been so long since I’ve posted, it seems like I don’t even know how to string words together anymore. I’ve been sitting on a phrase for quite a while now, probably well over a year, that I scribbled down on a yellow sticky note. I knew it was profound enough that I’d have to post it one day.
My youngest daughter, who will be ten in a few months, has a little world hidden inside of her. It’s a thoughtful little world, a quite special little world really, and perhaps it is most special because—I’m having that problem with stringing words together—because it is so effectively hidden from all the rest of us, day to day, moment to moment. She fusses a lot. She’d stubborn as all get-out. She likes to get her way. You’d think the whole world revolves around her. At least, you could think that, if you didn’t know the hidden things. The poignancy of it is simply this: I think she’s very much different on the inside, than she is on the outside, and she doesn’t know how to let the inside live on the outside. I think the paradox troubles her. I think it frustrates her. I love her for that struggle. It’s the struggles of being human, you know, that I find so compellingly beautiful about being human.
She must think a great deal for such a young little person, rolling things to and fro within her few years of experience. She ties things together of which you’d think, just from parenting her each day, she had no concept. But get her alone, in the right setting, in the right mood, at the right time, and this complete world pours forth, full of a myriad of “I don’t think this is good because…” and “I think so-and-so must be the way it is because if you think about it…” and the hyperactive child who can’t seem to sit still for ninety seconds during any day of the week, will sit for an hour and elaborate upon how all these people and things and ideas and happenings fit together in her life. And when she is done, you just sit there and think, “Holy cow.”
So that’s the little girl I do my best to see, to admire and to love in the midst of day-to-day things that can leave a daddy to pray for patience. I pause, and I think of a special world that is teeming just below the surface, just waiting, for the right setting, mood and time.
Oh and about that yellow sticky note. Some time ago, she was spending the night at a friend’s house and it was her first night away from home. She has fears; lots of them. She has anxieties; plenty of them. It must have been difficult for her to stay that night; to be strong and brave. To lay awake for who knows how long, in a strange house full of strange shapes and sounds and shadows, after everyone else had fallen soundly asleep. Sometime after midnight I received a text on my phone; I guess she must’ve borrowed a phone from her friend’s mother. It said simply this:
I love you daddy more than you can think of.
I texted her back and told her the same thing. And then I sat up a long while myself, thinking about those words. From within the hidden world within my daughter, who was seven or eight at the time, had arisen the proof that when we are alone, in the right setting, in the right mood, at the right time, we know—we know—the profundity of real love. Even when we are children, we know. We know that the mystery of true love is that we can feel it and know it exists, but in truth it is always more than we can think of. If it were not, it would be something less than love.